News Release

REF NO.: 99

SUBJECT: Memorial University researchers receive $2 million in funding support

DATE: January 12, 2010

The Research & Development Corporation (RDC), the Crown corporation for improving research and development activity and performance in Newfoundland and Labrador, today announced a $2-million investment in research projects at Memorial University through the Industrial Research and Innovation Fund (IRIF). 
The investment is being made in 15 research projects in areas including archaeology, ocean technology, engineering, marine biology, biochemistry and medicine.
The IRIF investment enables researchers to leverage an additional $4.2 million from other funding sources including the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), Canada Research Chairs Program, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the Canadian Institutes for Health Research-Regional Partnership Program (CIHR-RPP) and others.
“The investment from the Industrial Research and Innovation Fund supports innovative research at Memorial University that is relevant to local
industry and the provincial economy,” said Glenn Janes, chief executive officer of the RDC. “Strategic investments in R&D at post-secondary institutions are essential for attracting and retaining the best researchers and building the infrastructure and capacity in support of research and development in the province.”
“The Industrial Research and Innovation Fund is an important funding resource for research and development in Newfoundland and Labrador,” said Dr. Ray Gosine, vice-president (research) pro tempore at Memorial University. “The ability to leverage additional investment allows a researcher to increase the scale of their project and improve the quality of their research through collaboration with key figures at the local, national and international levels.”
One of those researchers is Dr. Daniel MacPhee, associate professor of reproductive and developmental biology in the Division of BioMedical Sciences in Memorial’s Faculty of Medicine. Dr. MacPhee is receiving $158,814 for research that will aid in identifying the origin, in whole or in part, of some diseases during human pregnancy, such as preeclampsia, that are a result of improper development of the placenta – the disk-like organ attaching baby to mother.
“In order for such diseases to be resolved in the clinic or perhaps even be prevented, a better understanding of how the human placenta develops in the first place is required. This is our goal,” said Dr. MacPhee.
“We will study a signaling molecule and several of its partner proteins that we believe are critical for development of the placenta. These molecules may then be potential future targets for drug development or useful as ‘markers’ for screening pregnant women who could be susceptible to such diseases of pregnancy.”
Dr. MacPhee’s IRIF funding is matched by $158,814 from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
He said the provincial funding helps drive “high-quality” research programs.
That sentiment is echoed by Dr. Craig Purchase, assistant professor, Department of Biology.
He has been awarded $90,716 in IRIF funding to create a new fish ecology research laboratory at Memorial. This leverages $81,456 he has received in funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation.
Dr. Purchase said the IRIF funding will allow his research team to further investigate a number of ecological, evolutionary and conservation issues.
“Relatively little research is invested into how populations might adapt to their environments or how changing environmental conditions would influence both their ecology and evolution,” said Dr. Purchase.
“These are some of the voids my group will make progress on filling. I am particularly interested in how local adaptation among populations — within the same species — influence productivity of that species as a whole. Most of our research would be impossible without the support of IRIF, as the equipment necessary to collect these data would not be accessible.”
The Industrial Research and Innovation Fund was established by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador in 2004 to build R&D capacity in Newfoundland and Labrador’s post-secondary institutions and other not-for-profit research facilities that support research and development, innovation and commercialization in areas relevant to industry and the local economy. In April 2009, the provincial government transferred administration of the fund to the Research & Development Corporation.

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